a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Weekend Box Office #112

The long holiday weekend starts today, with three big movies getting released, though I'm underwhelmed by them all.

The wife and I would like to cocoon in a theater sometime this weekend and catch a movie or three, but there is absolutely nothing on my wow-I've-got-to-see-that list at this point, except maybe SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

So if anyone wants to rave about anything out there now, go for it -- it's word-of-mouth time in the comments section.

Otherwise, opening wide this weekend:

FOUR CHRISTMASES (3310 theaters). I've scanned a few reviews for this, and they all basically say it's awful, except for when Jon Favreau is in it, and that's not very much. It's only 82 minutes long, but apparently it feels like an eternity. Still, people will see it. Estimate: $32.2 million for the 5-day weekend.

AUSTRALIA (2642 theaters). This is almost twice as long as Four Christmases, and apparently it's uneven, messy and corny, with one's enjoyment pretty much predicated on your tolerance for that. The ad is rife with good reviews, but I couldn;t help notice that the top one is by the shameless Jeff Craig of Sixty Second Preview, who gives 4 stars to everything. $25.1 million for the weekend.

TRANSPORTER 3 (2626 theaters). Apparently this is exactly what you expect, for better or for worse. $25.2 million.


Last weekend, TWILIGHT made $69.6 million, so I was damn close. BOLT only did $26.2 million, so my guess on that sucked.

Look for TWILIGHT to take the top spot again this weekend.


Happy Thanksgiving. Save a drumstick for me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend Box Office #111... And I Need a Character Name

First the weekend. There are only two movies opening, and both are going to be pretty huge.

BOLT (3651 theaters). It looks like it skews a little young, but reviews have been good, and the 3D will help. My guess: $51.1 million.

TWILIGHT (3419 theaters). Huge advance sales, and a big teen audience (or at least a big teenage girl audience). It's hard to tell how far the audience will really expand from there, but the first weekend should be big. $68.2 million.

Jump in with your guesses, because either could be a lot bigger or smaller.


So I'm wrestling with one of the character names in the thriller I just finished, and I'm looking for a little random help.

Because it's sort of a character-thriller in which the main characters are introduced on the fly, I'm looking for a name that will fix itself in the readers' heads, so that they'll remember who he is, without it being too on-the-nose.

Here's the character: he's 22, a former jock sunk into a life of laziness and frustration, the alpha-male of the group. Nicknames are fine, and might actually work better, but aren't required.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Screenwriting Books

So I finished a first, roughish draft of my new script last night, written somewhat oddly because I've been bringing chunks into my screenwriting group and rewriting as I went along.

It needs a rewrite, but hopefully not an enormous one. It also happily only came in at 91 pages, so I have room to play, though I'm more than willing to keep it in double-digits.

Anyhow, I'm going to toss it aside for at least 3 weeks, and let my brain forget all about it, while I ponder the high-concept comedy I think I'm going to tackle next.

One thing I like to do from time to time is read a screenwriting book. Like many people, I started out with Syd Field, and he's nice if you're a beginner, but I got tired of him pretty quickly.

About 12 years ago I actually attended one of what's-his-name's weekend seminars. Wow, I actually can't remember his name any more, but you know the guy. 30 hours, tears apart Casablanca, eventually wrote a book covering the same basic ideas.

It was a riveting 30 hours, and I took a ton of notes, and then never looked at them again.

In the last 10 years I've occasionally picked up a screenwriting book and read through it, though now I like to use them to get my brain churning on a particular project. Usually when I'm heading into a rewrite, just to get me to consider things from different angles.

Now I'm at an interesting place, because it's two projects. One a rewrite in which I'm about to tighten down the screws, but have room to build on an addition or change the decor I have to.

The comedy is something I made a couple of false starts at before, but I think I finally have a take on, yet I still have to work out the storyline.

I have no doubt that I could do both pretty well at this point -- but at the same time sometimes it's nice to have another perspective to feed into one's mental chopper.

So I guess the question is, what's your go-to book? If I walk into a bookstore looking to grab something to goose my brain, what should it be?


Monday, November 17, 2008

Your DVD Shelf

So today's question is this:

I visit your house/apartment, and you spot me looking at your DVD/VHS shelf.

1. What's on there that you instantly force me to borrow, because it's a great movie and you figure I haven't seen it?

2. What you do also lend me, because even though it's not considered a classic, it's a personal favorite?

3. What movie is on there that you have no rational explanation for owning, and which you try to slide under the couch while I'm distracted?

My answers are:

1. 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS. Great in-the-moment filmmaking, and a harrowing character-drama tale.

2. RUNNING SCARED. The one with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines. A good blend of comedy and cop procedural, and funny as hell.

3. LEGALLY BLONDE 2. I have no idea why this is on the shelf. I haven't watched it, and I'm not sure my wife even did.

Your turn. Go.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Weekend Box Office #110

The only movie opening wide this weekend is QUANTUM OF SOLACE, in 3451 theaters.

It's being called the first true Bond sequel, because it picks up right after the last movie ended, and deals with his trying to get revenge for his villainous girlfriend's death.

As opposed to the normal Bond movie, where there's no mention of the hot girl he was banging in the last scene of the previous one.

It's a new Bond, and word is he spends this entire movie incredibly pissed off, for better or for worse.

Look for it to do about $57.4 million for the weekend, though I wouldn't be surprised if it is higher; there's not a lot else out there.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What To Write

My hour-a-day pledge lasted about 17 days, until last Friday, when I missed a day. Still, I've been writing regularly since.

I'm determined to get a semi-polished rough draft of this dark thriller done by the end of the week; about about 78 pages into at this point, and I know everything to come.

Though I woke up yesterday morning with a very dark thought about how to spin one late sequence to make it even more cruelly memorable. I told my wife about it, and she cringed.

I'm going to need therapy for this script. And E.C., if it's ever a movie, you aren't allowed to see it.

When this draft is done, I'm going to throw it to the side for at least 3 weeks, see I can reapproach it in December and polish it up to a shine. It's getting there though.

Meanwhile, I'm already thinking about what to write next. It's going to have to be something fun, because my brain needs that. Probably one of two projects that I've put a lot of early brainstorming (and a couple of false starts) into in the past.

I'm coming into the time of the year when Hollywood shuts down for the holidays, and the reading biz is dead, which I need to take advantage of by letting my writing side fire on all cylinders.

Next year is going to be the year I sell something.

In the meantime, rent does need to be paid, so if anyone needs notes in the next two months, I'm more than available, and turnaround will undoubtedly be fast.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thank The Lord For The Movie Business --

-- Because it seems to be economy-proof, and really it's one of the strongest exports this country has.

The latest evidence is the fact that Madagascar 2 made an astounding $63 million over the weekend, including some $17 million on Friday, when the kids were in school during the day.

Role Models did a very solid $19 million, though Soul Men stumbled in with only $5.6 million.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Weekend Box Office #109

So I've been guilty of blog avoidance this past week. Apologies.

But I have been writing a lot, so there's that.

I still haven't been inside a movie theater in about 4 months. Maybe this weekend. Since, you know, it is the business I'm in.

Opening this weekend:

MADAGASCAR 2 (4056 theaters). I didn;t see the first one, but I guess the kids will come out for it, and it is a ton of theaters. $29.8 million for the weekend.

ROLE MODELS (2791 theaters). This is actually supposed to be funny, though it's also rated R, which is odd (and likely problematic box office wise) for a comedy with kids in it. $10.8 million.

SOUL MEN (2044 theaters). I actually gave notes on this, though I have no idea if or how they were implemented. $13.7 million.


Last weekend, ZACK AND MIRI only made $10 million; not bad, but not as well as I thought it might. It trailed HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3, but during the week it was finishing as top film each day.

CHANGELING did $9.4 million, and THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY did $5.4 million. ROCKNROLLA did $1.9 million.